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A 15-week pilot partnership between the Alberta Sheriffs and the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) will begin in late February to help deter and respond to crime and social disorder. More boots on the ground will allow EPS to increase the number of patrols and expand their reach to more high-priority neighbourhoods. This pilot will help keep communities safe by deterring criminal activity and building public trust with officers.
This partnership stems from the work being done by the Edmonton Public Safety and Community Response Task Force.
“Edmontonians and visitors alike should feel safe in their communities and Alberta’s government is working to make sure they are safe by putting more eyes and ears in neighbourhoods where they’re needed most. A larger officer presence is a direct request from EPS, Chinatown, and other downtown organizations. Partnerships and collaborations like this are going to play a key role as the task force continues to address complex issues like public safety, homelessness, addiction and mental health.”
“Police services across the province are key partners in our communities and play an important role in treating mental health and addiction as health-care issues. As we continue to implement recovery-oriented systems of care, we truly value having Edmonton Police Service and Alberta Sheriffs working together to support some of our most vulnerable citizens.”
Twelve sheriffs will be assigned to work in teams with EPS officers alongside the Healthy Streets Operations Centre, a community safety hub established by the City of Edmonton and EPS to deal with crime and social disorder in inner-city neighbourhoods.
The addition of Alberta Sheriffs will enable police to expand patrols to a wider area that includes Boyle Street and McCauley, and extend coverage to seven from five days a week, 22 hours each day. While officers can respond to criminal activity when needed, multi-disciplinary teams help increase community safety by addressing community concerns and preventing crime in ways that don’t necessarily involve enforcement.
“This is something we have been wanting to do for two years and we are pleased to have the Alberta Sheriffs add to the growing list of partners in this area. The approach, with police, sheriffs, EMS, fire, the City of Edmonton and community partners will make a difference to address the crime and disorder that are over-represented in Edmonton’s core communities. We can accomplish more together, and we look forward to working alongside the Alberta Sheriffs in improving public safety.”
“The Alberta Sheriffs believe in collaborating with other law enforcement agencies to protect and serve our communities. We welcome and embrace this opportunity to work alongside our policing partners, engage with the community and help bring a reassuring and visible presence to people in Edmonton.”
“The Downtown Recovery Coalition is encouraged to see the creation of this provincial task force to address the urgent safety issues within our downtown core. Our businesses welcome partnerships with law enforcement to support them, their employees and their retailers.”
The initiative builds on the Government of Alberta’s continuing support for the greater Edmonton region and downtown core. Between investments to support downtown businesses, assistance to those experiencing homelessness, support for Albertans struggling with addiction, and efforts to reduce racism and support cultural communities, Alberta’s government is supporting Edmonton’s return to the “city of champions.”
Alberta’s government continues working with EPS to address mental health and addiction as health-care issues while keeping communities safe. This includes equipping police officers with information to better assess the needs of a person experiencing a mental health emergency through HealthIM, and equipping police to provide anyone arrested with the option of immediately consulting with an addiction medicine specialist through the Virtual Opioid Dependency Program (VODP).
"The announcement of additional police support in downtown Edmonton is a positive first step. With more office workers, residents, students, and visitors feeling safe in our downtown, investment confidence will grow, businesses will once again thrive, property values will rise and tax dollars will increase. A vibrant downtown benefits all Edmontonians and we look forward to continuing to be a part of building the future of this city. "
Alberta Sheriffs are peace officers and those involved with the pilot project are being temporarily reassigned as part of their regular duties, which include specialized roles and areas of jurisdiction, such as: traffic enforcement and commercial vehicle safety on provincial highways, conservation law enforcement, prisoner escort and security at provincial courthouses, and security at the Alberta legislature.
Sheriffs’ participation in the pilot project is covered by the organization’s existing budget.
HealthIM helps police officers to better prepare when responding to individuals in acute crisis. The pre-response briefing includes de-escalation techniques, as well as any known information about the person in crisis. This supports officer safety and the safety of the person in crisis.
HealthIM also helps officers assess whether a person should be conveyed to a designated facility and facilitates communication between law enforcement and health services.
If apprehension isn’t warranted, officers can use HealthIM to link a person with community supports or a service provider familiar to the individual.
Albertans struggling with opioid addiction can contact the Virtual Opioid Dependency Program (VODP) by calling 1-844-383-7688, seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. VODP provides same-day access to addiction medicine specialists. There is no wait list.